Memories of 2008 have to he haunting Hillary Clinton here in New Hampshire. Before the 2008 presidential primary season, Mrs. Clinton was widely regarded as the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic Party nomination.
Those expectations began to unravel at the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, where she managed only a third place finish, eight percentage points behind winner Barack Obama.
Even though Mrs. Clinton managed – unexpectedly – to narrowly defeat Obama in the 2008 New Hampshire primary, she was never able to overcome the Obama insurgency. Mrs. Clinton arrived at the Pepsi Center in Denver for the Democratic National Convention not as the nominee, but instead as the keynote speaker supporting someone that she believed had snatched away that which was rightfully hers.
Jump ahead to 2015 and it was again widely believed that Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination. But as primary season begins in 2016, what once seemed inevitable is now in doubt.
A relentless parade of stories that draw into question Mrs. Clinton’s ability to tell the truth have taken a toll. She is currently under investigation by the FBI and could conceivably face criminal prosecution for her handling of classified government information on her personally-owned email server.
This scandal – and others – served to open the door to the unlikely candidacy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – a septuagenarian and self-declared socialist. Mrs. Clinton escaped Iowa by the skin of her teeth, having defeated Sanders by less than a percentage point – the narrowest margin in Iowa Caucuses history.
She is expected to lose to Sanders by double digits in New Hampshire.
Sanders began his campaign against Mrs. Clinton rather mildly. During the first Democratic candidates debate, he even defended Mrs. Clinton on the subject of the ongoing controversy surrounding her emails.
But here in New Hampshire, with Mrs. Clinton looking more vulnerable than anyone imagined she would, Sanders is turning up the heat.
Sanders attacked Mrs. Clinton sharply for having accepted millions of dollars in speaking fees from big Wall Street Banks such as Goldman Sachs. Among other things, Sanders demanded that Mrs. Clinton release transcripts of those speeches.
The attack appeared to catch the Clinton camp off guard and Hillary has been forced to answer questions that she would probably rather not answer. One such question came from ABC’s Cecilia Vega, who asked her to respond to Sanders’ attacks. (Listen to her response here or listen via the media player below.)
With respect to releasing transcripts of her speeches, Mrs. Clinton promises only to, “look into it.”
Hillary Clinton moves from New Hampshire into much friendlier territory – staring in South Carolina for that state’s February 27 Democratic primary. She is still widely expected to win the Democratic nomination.
But the fear on the part of Democrats is that the damage being done to her in the primaries will leave her badly wounded, hurting the party’s chances in the November general election.
Time will tell.